It's just about one month into the World Contraception Day Project, and after a couple technical false starts the project is developing nicely. The structure of my project involves both qualitative and quantitative data collection. This is a slightly boring way of saying that the end products will include statistics collected from the #WCDSurvey and some insightful personal stories from young people in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) about their experiences with contraceptives. In a region as vast and varied as LAC, it is no small task trying to reach out to young people and collect their stories, especially when talking about issues as private as sex and contraceptives. Going into this project I knew that in order to maximize participation I would need to rely on a wide network of allies throughout the LAC region.
The support of allies and friends in completing and sharing the survey and the promotional material for the project has been tremendous and I am truly grateful to them in getting the word out to even more young people. With this wider reach, in the short space of two weeks, the online survey has been completed by almost 100 young people in countries across the region and the numbers are increasing by the day! The project has been boosted even more by the excellent journalism of a committed feminist ally and freelance journalist based in my home country, Paula Lindo. Paula wrote a great full page article about the project which ran in last Sunday's edition of a popular daily newspaper in Trinidad and Tobago! This feature has really extended the project’s reach and helped push it into the next phase of filming interviews with young people. The footage from these interviews will be edited into a short film at the end of the project.
I promised a big reveal in my last blog post of the two other countries that will be the focus of this project. As promised, I am happy to announce that these countries are Belize and St. Lucia! I look forward to featuring both Kweyol and Spanish speaking youth voices in the final output! I traveled to Belize at the end of August to meet with young people there and listen to their stories and I will go St. Lucia this month. I am very fortunate once again to be working with some amazing allies, youth SRHR Advocate Elmer Cornejo and an exceptional Belizean attorney-at-law, Ms. Leslie Mendez! They have been incredibly helpful in connecting me with different communities and organizations operating within Belize.
Many exciting things lay ahead over the next couple months, filming starts soon and with each day we are recording new responses on the #WCDSurvey. Hearing from fellow young people has really contextualized for me the importance of this work in this region and the need to provide young people with improved services and information relating to contraception. The need is clear. One of our youth respondents had this to say, “I am not a virgin but I have not been sexually active in years. I am informed about contraceptive methods but I feel a lot of my peers are not. There should be more information available and less stigma toward educating youth so they are more comfortable accessing the health centers which have made efforts to do so.” Online spaces such as www.your-life.com have gone a long way towards providing young people with vital information but more must be done and the change starts with listening!
About World Contraception Day:
In support of World Contraception Day and Women Deliver’s Young Leaders Program, Women Deliver and Bayer will work in partnership on a three-year World Contraception Day (WCD) Ambassadors Project. The project equips young people with the skills they need to collect and share digital stories about young people’s SRHR and access to contraception in their home countries. The project includes a storytelling and digital media training, a seed grant, and advocacy opportunities for the Ambassadors to showcase their work at the international level.